Covid-19: Four regions turn ‘orange’ as Italy tightens zone restrictions

Restrictions have been tightened in some parts of Italy from Sunday, amid concern about new coronavirus variants and the rising national Rt rate.

Covid-19: Four regions turn 'orange' as Italy tightens zone restrictions
Photo: AFP

Italy's health ministry has designated Abruzzo, Liguria, Tuscany and the autonomous province of Trento 'orange' zones from Sunday, based on this week's regional health data.

Health authorities issued a weekly report indicating that the Rt rate – which measures how fast the virus is spreading – had risen slightly to 0,95, from 0,84 last week.
Localised lockdowns, or mini red zones, have already been enforced in several provinces.
Umbria and the province of Bolzano also remain in the orange zone. Sicily will be a yellow zone from Tuesday February 16th, when an existing ordinance expires.
All other regions remain yellow.
This means that, from Sunday 14th February, Italy's regions will be classified as follows:
Red zones: no regions. Local lockdowns are in place in some towns and provinces.
Orange zones: Abruzzo, Liguria, Tuscany, autonomous province of Bolzano, autonomous province of Trento, Umbria, Sicily (Sicily turns yellow from Tuesday February 16th).
Yellow zones: Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Lombardy, Marche, Molise, Piedmont, Sardinia, Valle d'Aosta, Veneto.
White zone: no regions.
With Trentino moving to the orange zone, ski slopes will not be reopening on February 17th as planned. Reopenings are only possible in yellow zones.
Italy on Friday also extended a ban on non-essential travel between regions until at least February 25th.
Travel between regions is allowed for work, health, or other essential reasons only.
In “orange zone” regions, shops are open but malls are shut on public holidays. Restaurants and bars are closed except for take-away until 10pm and delivery.

The “yellow zone” applies to areas with moderate risk, where only national restrictions apply. It allows for daytime reopening (until 6pm) of bars and restaurants, opening of museums on weekdays, and greater freedom to travel within the region.

A nighttime curfew remains in effect throughout the country from 10pm to 5am, and gyms, pools and theatres remain closed. 

Please be aware that local authorities may impose additional restrictions on hotspots within each region. Always check the latest rules for your province or municipality via its official website: find where to look here.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy

The northern cities of Milan and Turin were named Italy's 'smog capitals' in a new pollution report on Monday which urged the government to take action over poor air quality.

REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy
Photo: Pixabay

Smog and pollution are choking Italian cities year-round and many towns are exceeding limits on fine particles and other pollution, according to another report from Italian environmental watchdog Legambiente.

The Mal’aria di città (Air pollution in the city) report for 2023, unveiled on Monday, was the latest to warn about the risks to health posed by pollution in many parts of the country.

It found that 25 of 95 cities monitored had violated clean air ordinances by exceeding daily fine particle (PM10) emission limits, which are currently set at no more than 35 days a year with a daily average of over 50 micrograms per cubic metre.

Turin was ranked as the worst offender, exceeding this level on 90 days, closely followed by Milan (84), Asti (79), Modena (75), and Padua and Venice at 70.

These were followed by Cremona, Treviso, Mantua and Rovigo, all of which exceeded limits to a lesser degree.

All of the most polluted cities were in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto, with most within the north-western ‘industrial triangle’.

Some southern cities featured nearer the bottom of the ranking, with Andria (Puglia) and Ragusa (Sicily) exceeding limits on several days, as well as Rome, which overshot the permitted level for one day.

(Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

The average annual rate of PM10 emissions nationwide dropped slightly, by two percent year-on-year, the report found.

“This, however, is not enough to guarantee the health of citizens,” said Stefano Ciafani, president of Legambiente.

He pointed out that the situation looked even worse if air quality in Italian cities were measured against tighter limits under the new European Directive on air quality, in force from 2030, which lowers the PM10 threshold from 35 to 20 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

“Only 23 out of 96 cities (24 percent) would be under these limits,” Ciafani said, while 84 percent would exceed the threshold for PM2.5 and 61 percent for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Italy has repeatedly been reprimanded by the European Union over air quality, and has “persistently and systematically” breached EU recommended limits, the European Court of Justice ruled in 2020.

The north of Italy has long been ranked among the worst areas in Europe for polluted air according to data from the European Environment Agency.

“Air pollution is not only an environmental problem, but also a health problem of great importance,” said Ciafani. “In Europe, it’s the main cause of premature death due to environmental factors.”

“Italy has more than 52,000 deaths per year caused by PM2.5 emissions, equal to a fifth of those recorded throughout the continent,” he said.

The main causes of air pollution in Italian cities are reported to be industry, inefficient domestic heating systems, agricultural practices and, most of all, heavy traffic.

In Italy, cars continue to be by far the most-used means of transport. 65.3 percent of journeys overall are made by car, Legambiante wrote, with the emissions from some 38 million cars choking Italy’s towns and cities.

(Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

Legambiente said “drastic” measures were required to tackle the problem, including funds for more efficient heating systems in homes and public buildings and a major increase in public transport provision.

The group said Italy must “quadruple the availability of public transit, promoting integrated season tickets as done by Germany in 2022”, triple the number of electric buses, create zero-emission zones in town centres, and “create another 16,000 kilometres of cycle paths”.

It also praised local authorities choosing to bring in 30 km/h speed limits in city centres. Councils in Bologna, Turin, Milan and Cesena have all said they plan to implement these limits, following the lead of European cities including Paris and Madrid, despite fierce criticism from Italian transport minister Matteo Salvini.

Legambiente published a petition urging the government to make clean air and more livable cities a priority, saying Italy should follow Paris in attempting to create ’15-minute cities’, in which everyone lives within a quarter of an hour’s walk of vital amenities such as shops and schools and possibly also workplaces.